Thinking About Buying an Airplane

Back about lesson two or three, my CFI first planted the idea that I should buy a airplane. At first I thought he was trying to build a new student’s confidence, was just kidding, or had dramatically overestimated my financial resources. Some of my thoughts back then:

A airplane must cost as much as a house or at least a couple of expensive cars.

  • Buy one? I can’t even land one yet.
  • Will I like flying enough (or be competent enough at it) to make that kind of investment?
  • Even if I had the money, I wouldn’t know what I’d want.
  • I don’t know anything about maintaining a airplane, and I would probably have to fly an awful lot for this idea to make sense.
  • As a student, I probably couldn’t get insurance, or it would be outrageously expensive.

I put the idea on the back burner for a while while I got my private license, making an effort to fly several different airplanes to get a feel for what I liked. I trained mostly in a Cessna 152, but also flew 150s, 172s, and Piper Warriors as a student. I developed an early preference for low-wing airplanes like the Warrior. (See High-Wing vs. Low-Wing on another page.) The main reasons were my CFI’s influence and the improved visibility in the pattern.

Most of my objections to ownership faded away by the end of my student days. Looking through magazines like Trade-A-Plane and Aero Shopper, I realized it was possible to buy an older airplane for about the price of a new car. I got a couple of insurance quotes and was surprised to find that I could get covered even as a student for $1000 per year or so. (My first year cost with as a new private pilot was a little over $700. The second year, with an instrument rating, the price dropped to $600.) I was really hooked on flying by then, and making good progress; my interest was clearly not going to go away. That left two main sticking points: concerns about maintenance and how to find the right airplane for me.

Continue to Airplane Requirements.

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